Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is Microsoft Admitting that Analysis Services is not Fit for the Mid-Market?

I recently read an article posted on the SQL Server team's blog (Technet) written by Shimon Shlevich, a product manager at Panorama Software, focusing on Microsoft's recently-launched PowerPivot in-memory offering.

According to the author, Microsoft has two main goals with PowerPivot: to "introduce a new in-memory engine for data processing" and to "promote the self-service BI concept extending the usage of BI systems to a wider audience."

There are, of course, other reasons which the author did not mention, such as Microsoft trying to get a fighting chance against QlikView, which has been constantly beating Microsoft at mid-sized and departmental deals.

In addition, Microsoft is trying to motivate their customers to upgrade to Excel 2010, in which PowerPivot is provided for free in the form of an add-in. Microsoft is not a natural BI company and their cash cows are still Windows and Office, so it only makes sense. Will it work? Who knows. Will it change the BI space? Probably not.

To me, the most interesting thing about this post is the fact that PowerPivot is meant to promote the self-service BI concept, which in most people's minds is the complete and utter opposite of what Analysis Services delivers, namely a heavy, IT-centric business intelligence solution.

If this is true, Microsoft is basically admitting on their own blog that Analysis Services has failed to provide a viable solution for mid-sized companies and departments (where self-service BI is widely used) and that their new BI marketing strategy is based on Office, not SQL Server.

This fact is well known to people who are familiar with the trends and nuances of the BI space, but Microsoft saying this on their blog is, to me, a very big deal.

By: Elad Israeli | The ElastiCube Chronicles - Business Intelligence Blog


  1. What's wrong with letting people who are not ITS create their own BI? It will create cubes for IT that never could have made before due to time constraints and it will only add to the wealth of information available.

  2. there is absolutely nothing wrong it. on the contrary. I am not sure how big of an impact PP would have on the wealth of information but AS has definitely reached a dead end. Microsoft implicitly/unintentionally admitting it is what's interesting to me from a market perspective.

  3. I just found this article recently -

    Doesnt it seem to indicate otherwise - that AS still has some way to go?

  4. Clariice,

    In my opinion, OLAP has no future and there is no doubt in my mind that the clock has begun to count down on Analysis Services, at least in its current form.

    I've been feeling this way for a while. For example, see my interview on TDWI back in December 2009:

    That is not to say that Microsoft won't use this brand in the future, but it will require deep level re-design and a completely new positioning strategy.


  5. I have been working with ProClarity BI tool and Analysis Server/SSAS for 12 years now. I have to say every now and then Microsoft does some dumb things that even a 5th grade student will not do. They purchased ProClarity (god know for how many millions) and killed it.

    Well, they are using very small parts of ProClarity on that stupid PPS. No one were interested in buying PPS, so they dumped it and now they are calling it SharePoint 2010 with analytics.

    Now they have realeased another donkey called “PowerPivot” and claims it’s a horse that can run 100mph. I am very sorry to say it is not even as fast as the regular pivot table connected to SSAS. So every 12 to 18 months they design some stupid software and expect customers to buy them.

    In my 12 years of experience, I have not seen one tool in the market that works as good as ProClarity. So why did MS buy it and kill it? No one knows....

  6. I think it's because the OLAP front-end tool space has been stagnant for a long time, and ProClarity were just as happy to sell as Microsoft were to buy. Even though they had over 20% of the OLAP front end market, they still had a hard time growing.

    Whatever Microsoft paid for ProClarity wasn't enough to be considered high risk for Microsoft, so they gave it a try with PerformancePoint and killed it when it didn't work out.

    Sadly, it's a simple as that.


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